Though Puffabellys' menu clearly states it opened in 1995, the restaurant carries an ambiance and a history evocative of a much older establishment. Initially housed in an old train depot that was relocated from Lovelady, the eatery burned completely to the ground five years after opening. The original structure was completely unsalvageable, but reclaimed materials were collected so that the new structure would echo the personality of its ancestor.
Today, aged tin signs for train lines and ice cream bedeck a dining room where weathered tin cans brimming with peanuts sit on each table. Diners crack the nuts' salty shells as they await plates of fried catfish or the eatery's popular fried green tomatoes. A selection of 10 open-faced burgers exposes steamy layers of shredded cheese with bacon or jalapeños, effectively forcing sandwich picks into early retirement. On Wednesday nights, live music plays during the Songwriter Showcase.
Amid the brightly colored walls and chopping sounds of Zoom Zoom Catering, chefs cut and sauté fresh, local produce that’s acquired at farmers’ markets whenever possible. With that green, mostly organic bounty, they whip up catering-menu trays of salads and sandwiches designed to feed groups of up to 700. The chefs also work with clients to create custom menus for weddings or authentic Middle Earth–themed luncheons. Groups of children or adults are also invited to join chefs in the kitchen for cooking classes–which range from making pasta to barbecuing–and include practical guidance on the economics and nutrition of buying fresh produce.
Ellen's Cafe embodies the warm Texas-small-town spirit of Old Town Spring with its cheerful staff and menu of made-from-scratch classics. Owner Ellen Saxe can often be spotted bustling about the restaurant, greeting customers and guiding them toward tables in the bright-yellow dining room or out on the sunny front porch. In the kitchen, her husband and head chef, Alan Saxe, captains a kitchen crew as they whip eggs into five types of quiche and assemble freshly baked breads into hearty sandwiches that have been lauded by the Humble Observer. Meanwhile, pots of the soup of the day bubble on stovetops as housemade pies and cobblers rise in ovens. The husband-and-wife duo peddles their own fudge and old-fashioned ice cream, crafting all their products themselves rather than commissioning teams of tree-dwelling elves to mass-produce them.
Residing in a one-level homey habitat, Jitterbug Coffee House eases caffeine cravings and midday meal hankerings with a menu of coffeehouse treats and casual dining. Delicious drinkables—including Italian cream soda ($2.89), chai tea ($3.25), and specialty espresso drinks ($3.29–$3.89)—confidently complement the shop's collection of sweet-tooth satisfiers. Customers who can never get their pasta dishes cold enough at home can enjoy the signature spaghetti ice cream ($3.99), which blurs the always-tenuous line between dessert and pasta dish by submerging ice cream noodles in sweet sundae toppers. Eliminate paralyzing mealtime decisions by grabbing a soup and sandwich combo ($8.15) or confidently choose to crush a protein-packed turkey-bacon wrap or panini ($6.75).
In 1964, brothers Leroy and Forrest Raffel banded together to come up with a new restaurant concept. Arby's took off almost immediately on the coattails of its hallmark roast-beef sandwich and the founders’ idea of providing customers with fast, quality food. Over the company's 48-year franchise history, its foundational pièce de résistance of thinly sliced, juicy beef has been served in a many permutations, and continues to be popular today, served at more than 3,500 stores in North America. Today’s menu still ignites appetites with traditional beef sandwiches, plus hot and seasoned curly fries, fresh-chopped salads, and desserts good for richly capping off meals or bribing any bridge trolls on the way home.